RB Capital—controlled by Kishin RK and his father Raj Kumar—has picked IHG Hotels to manage its hotel in Farrer Park at the heart of Singapore’s Little India district, betting on a robust recovery in the tourism industry that was among the hardest hit by pandemic-induced travel restrictions.
Previously managed by Singapore-based Park Hotel Management, which is undergoing liquidation, the 300-room hotel has been rebranded as Holiday Inn Singapore Little India ahead of a renovation that will give it a fresh identity. “Holiday Inn Singapore Little India is supporting the Singapore government to keep borders safe, and we will start renovations in due course,” IHG said in an email reply to Forbes Asia.
This will be the third Singapore hotel to be managed by IHG for RB Capital, which also owns the five-star InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay along the Singapore River and the 442-room Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay. The strategic collaboration across the three properties will enable greater synergies and shared expertise that will ensure that the hotels are better prepared for the recovery in the tourism industry, IHG said in a statement.
“As Singapore prepares to embark on the endemic Covid-19 roadmap with the gradual opening its borders to international travel, I am confident that the hospitality industry will bounce back strongly,” Kishin, founder and CEO of RB Capital, said in a statement. “It’s the perfect time to relaunch this hotel with a new brand, new positioning and a design-led renovation so we are poised for recovery and ideally positioned to contribute to Singapore’s success as the country reopens.”
The 20-story Holiday Inn Little India is part of Farrer Square, a mixed-use development built by RB Capital on a 99-year leasehold site that it bought in a state land auction in 2012. The project was completed in 2016.
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The following year, RB Capital received an unsolicited proposal from an unidentified investor to buy the hotel but Kishin decided against the sale. “We believe in the long-term value appreciation of hotel plots in Singapore,” he told Forbes Asia by phone, adding that the replacement cost for such properties is extremely high.
Directly connected to the Farrer Park MRT station, the property is strategically located just outside the central business district and close to the Orchard Road shopping belt. It is adjacent to the Farrer Park Hospital and the 24-hour shopping mall Mustafa Centre, which is popular among Indian tourists.
The renovation of Holiday Inn Little India comes as several hotels in Singapore, including the Kwee family’s Capella Hotel Group and Pan Pacific Hotels, are refurbishing their properties to take advantage of the pandemic-induced downtime. Visitor arrivals slumped 86% to 2.7 million at the height of the Covid-19 crisis in 2020, dragging hotel revenues 71% lower to S$1.2 billion ($891 million), government data showed. While arrivals have picked up this year, the numbers are nowhere near the 2019 levels when more than 19 million visitors came to Singapore.
“New attractions and infrastructure projects planned for 2021 to 2030 bode well for the future demand of tourism in Singapore,” Kishin said. “The Singapore government’s management of the Covid crisis with the lowest fatality count globally has gained the confidence and trust amongst corporations globally to explore this city as an attractive hub for themselves and their businesses.”
Kishin and his father Raj are among Singapore’s leading landlords with their Royal Holdings and RB Capital property empire. The duo have been on a dealmaking spree after a 2011 family settlement between Raj and his younger sibling Asok Kumar Hiranandani, also a billionaire. With a net worth of $2.7 billion, Kishin and Raj were ranked No. 14 when the list of Singapore’s 50 Richest people was published last month.